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The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley Hardcover – June 10, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195163435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195163438
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.4 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By the high-tech boom of the 1990s, Intel CEO Andy Grove had become the man most commonly associated with the industry's leading manufacturer of microprocessors. But the real credit for creating Intel, Berlin argues, belongs to Noyce (1927–1990), who cofounded the company with Gordon Moore in 1968—a little more than a decade after the two men took part in the creation of another early Silicon Valley fixture, Fairchild Semiconductor. Berlin, a science historian at Stanford, provides a well-rounded biography that easily establishes Noyce's scientific credentials—in addition to holding the patent on the integrated circuit, he also just missed out on taking credit for two Nobel-worthy discoveries—as well as his bumpy path through the corporate world, which began when he was recruited by seven colleagues to break away from the research lab where they were employed to found Fairchild. Interviews with Noyce's contemporaries and family illuminate the less happy aspects of his personal life. With the bloom off the Internet economy, it may prove harder to generate interest in the life of a technology executive, but that shouldn't diminish Berlin's excellent work here. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review


"An important, hype-free account. And the bonus: Noyce was no geeky physicist, and his risk-taking zeal to create new things, coupled with a powerful commitment to ethics, powers a story that should be required reading for today's entrepreneurs and executives."--Washington Post


"A comprehensive and admiring biography.... Hopefully it can restore to proper renown a man once called the Thomas Edison and the Henry Ford of Silicon Valley.... Berlin does a fine job uncovering the details of Noyce's childhood and tracing his intellectual development.... Berlin writes convincingly.... [A] thorough and worthy retelling of his life."--Washington Monthly


"Leslie Berlin's meticulously researched biography tells the story of a talented but flawed individual whose successes and failures could serve as the raw material for a dozen business school case studies. It also paints a revealing picture of US business culture in the mid-20th century.... [An] evocative account of the birth of an industry."--Financial Times


"This is where Berlin is best: she superbly evokes the hacker inventiveness of Shockley and his gang."--Clive Thompson, New York Times Book Review


"All the busy billionaires, multimillionaires and geeks in their garages dreaming up the next big thing that will bring glory back to Silicon Valley should plunk down some loose change on 'The Man Behind the Microchip.' And anyone interested in the true creation story of Silicon Valley--in contrast to the enticing tales of the mythmakers who continue to blow bubbles of promise up and down the Peninsula--would do well to make a small investment in this terrific biography."--John Christensen, San Francisco Chronicle


"The first full-scale biography of Noyce and the first book to acknowledge his true importance. Noyce's story is a fascinating one.... The book succeeds best as a business biography, putting his impressive accomplishments in perspective. Noyce should be considered one of the most influential inventors of our time, a prime mover of the digital revolution that has changed all our lives. For that he deserves much broader recognition. The Man Behind the Microchip is a great start in that direction."--PC Magazine


"Exhaustively researched."--Houston Chronicle


"Leslie Berlin does an excellent job of capturing the Bob Noyce I knew: part small-town boy, part big-time genius and always a wonderful friend and citizen."--Warren E. Buffett, Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.


"Bob Noyce's contributions to the development of the semiconductor industry go well beyond his inventions. He was industry spokesman, visionary, and leading entrepreneur. But this well written book does more than just chronicle his many contributions; it is a window into his complex and charming personality."--Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation


"Leslie Berlin, in her highly readable biography of Noyce, describes how his work sparked two revolutions in the modern business and technology era."--Robert Weisman, Philadelphia Inquirer


"At last, the absorbing story of the most important figure in the history of the semiconductor industry! Meticulously researched, The Man Behind the Microchip is so engagingly narrated that you don't realize how much business and technology you are learning along the way."--William Aspray, Rudy Professor of Informatics, Indiana University


"At the white-hot epicenter of the digital revolution was Robert Noyce. Now, thanks to this incisive and astutely researched biography, Noyce will be forever listed among those inventor-entrepreneurs of the postwar era who functioned as the Johan Gutenbergs, the Alexander Graham Bells, the Guglielmo Marconis of our era."--Kevin Starr, University Professor of History, University of Southern California



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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Leslie Berlin has done a very thorough job here.
Graham M. Flower
Berlin has performed an amazing amount of detailed research into Noyce's life.
W Boudville
This book is an easy read and it is quite entertaining.
S. ragno

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on July 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, Senior IEEE member, IEEE Region 5 Outstanding Member, and recipient of multiple IEEE awards.

This review is a departure from my typical "book report" style, because I have too many things to say about it for that format to work.

Isaac Asimov called the invention of integrated circuit (IC) "the most important moment since man emerged as a life form." If you look at how ICs have changed the world, that's a hard viewpoint to argue against.

I personally own quite a few ICs and you probably do also. They are everywhere. If you own a cell phone, a computer, or an automobile, you own at least several million transistors. Transistors inside ICs have made possible many things that were not even imagined 100 years ago. Think about all of today's communications, conveniences, explorations, exchanges, transportation, information processing, productivity, and advances in medicine. None of this would exist, if not for Dr. Bob Noyce.

It's hard to imagine that the drive, intelligence, and unique personality of one man could have had so much influence on bringing this about. But, it did. The IC changed the macro culture--even our brains are wired differently because of microelectronics (see [...] It also created a micro culture we call Silicon Valley--a major engine for economic and scientific growth. The change brought about by Dr. Noyce was deep and lasting.

This book is the story of that change and of the man behind it. But if Dr. Noyce, who died in 1990, were here today, he would make it clear that every invention depends on the breakthroughs that came before it. So in The Man Behind the Microchip, you read not just about Dr. Noyce, but about the people whom he motivated and inspired.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Graham M. Flower on June 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read many histories of Silicon Valley including those

that focused on chips, personal computers, venture capitalists

etcetera, but this one is the best. While there is little here

specifically about the rise of personal computers this book

fills in a tremendous amount of the early history of the

development of the chip, while also providing a very revealing

portrait of Robert Noyce. The range of information here is very

great. However, the book is focused on Noyce, its just that it

sheds light on a great number of events that are part of the

Silicon Valley lore.

Leslie Berlin has done a very thorough job here. Robert

Noyce was the subject of her Phd and she has been a visiting

scholar at Stanford while writing this book. The book has a

full set of notes so that the information she is revealing can

be traced back to the sources she has used. She has clearly had

substantial help from Robert Noyce's family as there are a

number of elements of this story that could only come from them.

It appears that she has interviewed a large number of Noyce's

colleagues including people like Gordon Moore, Andy Grove, and

Charlie Sporck and has pretty much gone through almost

everything written by Robert Noyce or about him. There is a list

of about 10 Theses she references and references to each of

Robert Noyce's testimonies before congress. Ms Berlin has even

interviewed the women who had affairs with Robert Noyce.

The small town background of Mr Noyce has been written about

before.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ray Feldman on June 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As one of the thousands of young engineers who made the great migration to the Bay Area almost 50 years ago, I really enjoyed reading Ms. Berlin's biography of Robert Noyce and her wide ranging narrative of the early days of Silicon Valley. I found her account of the founding companies and major players, not only very informative, but also an absorbing story of an evolving technology. I was of course, familiar with Noyce's achievements in the development of the microchip, but there was much about the man, his character and personality and the details of his work that was a revelation to me.

Being an electronic system designer in the early 60's, I was also oppressed by the "tyranny of numbers" that was becoming more difficult to deal with as systems became larger and more complex over time. I was involved with a number of efforts to defeat the tyranny by the use of various discrete construction techniques. They were all bound to fail since they could do little to minimize the connectivity problem. The appearance of the microchip on the electronic scene was a true revolution that ultimately made possible the wonders we take for granted, from the powerful little computer on which I'm typing this, to the tiny programmable DSP (digital signal processor) hearing aid I wear. We all owe a great debt to Robert Noyce, who would have shared the Noble Prize in Physics with Jack Kilby had he lived another 10 years. As I write this, memorials for Jack Kilby, who died less than a week ago, are being held world wide. Another giant has fallen!

I highly recommend Leslie Berlin's book, which is far more than just a biography of an individual, notwithstanding one as compelling as Noyce. It's also an edifying history of a technology and industry, cleverly disguised as a darned good read.

I agree with the previous reviewer, a Pulitzer for Ms. Berlin!
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